History of the Foundation Stone

historystone

Whatever Pan Trinbago’s problems today and they are as wide as they are deep there’s no doubt that the genius of those men who invented pan was also manifest in the organisation they created half century ago to see after its interests. And if this organisation was the labour of countless men, it was conceived by only one.

Sydney Gollop, who was honoured in August 1999 by Pan Trinbago for his contribution to the steelband movement, was a 30-year-old member of Crusaders steelband in St Paul’s Street when he came up with the idea in 1950.

In the late 1940s the society was in turmoil. The end of the war and the departure of the American soldiers left unemployment in their wake. Butler agitating for industrial action again. Panmen throughout the city were fighting one another tooth and nail, particularly those in Invaders and Casablanca. If those two bands were musically the best in the country, they were also the most violent.

No month passed without some panman stabbing or steelband affray. Respectable society, already disdainful, recoiled in fear and loathing. Calls were made for the return of the cat (abolished in 1940).In response, the police were brutal with the panmen.

Invaders supporter Lennox Pierre, a socialist ,was also secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Council, and through his influence the Youth Council petitioned Albert Gomes about the police brutality towards panmen. In November 1949 a 10-member government committee was set up to study the Port of Spain bands and suggest what could be done about them.

Canon Max E Farquhar chaired the committee, Pearl Carter was secretary. The rest were representatives of concerned organisations: Carlyle Kerr and Lennox Pierre (Youth Council); Carlton Ottley (Education Extension Services); George Mose (Probation Department); Charles Espinet (Folklore Society); Bertie Thompson (Colts) Mortiner Mitchell (Friendly Societies); Beryl Mc Burnie (Little Carib Theatre).

They asked the police to back off, and the 1949 Christmas was quiet but by Carnival 1950 Invaders had 17 men in court for fighting. Early in March, however the bands signed a non-aggression pact, and shared drinks in the Black Lion Rum Shop. Tokyo, another Invaders ‘enemy was there too.

The Youth Council had also held a meeting at the public library, and it was there that Sydney Gallop from Crusaders called on panmen to form an organization. The previous year schoolteacher Harold Blake had formed a Steelband Music Association with about 20 bands in Chenet Alley. Invaders’ Ellie Mannette was President, Casablanca’s Oscar Pile Vice President .Crusaders’ captain John Slater, and Hill60’s captain Patcheye Pacho’t were too. But for some unknown reason Blake’s Association never took off. Gallop’s suggestion that night in the Public Library in favour of an organisation wasn’t a repeat of Blake’s idea, but rather came from a different ,deeper source. He was born in March,1919 to James and Emelda  Gollop. His father, a meat vendor, was a member of the Port of Spain branch of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

As a child Gollop joined the UNIA youth group, the Vanguards. After that declined, he moved into the Cubs. As he grew older his impulse to organisation carried him into many sporting and cultural clubs, for instance, in one dram group he acted with De Wilton Rogers and Donald Granado. Another group was the Lecontine sports Club (named after Learie Constantine). He was also a voluntary social worker for the City Council’s Health Committee.

Accordingly, Gollop’s steelband, Crusaders, for which he briefly played biscuit drum was one of the most formally organised bands of those days and their panyard in the old prisoners quarry on St Paul Street (now site of the sports complex) was the chosen venue for peace  talks between the warring bands.

“It was such a funny feeling that day when you look at the situation and for the first time you looking at a bunch of heavyweights get together and you get the feeling they might start a fight ,no matter what happen, “recalled Andrew “Pan” De La Bastide from hill 60.”I was standing in a strategic position- I will be truthful with you  I was standing in a position that the first time I hear something click I was getting ready  to cut loose because nobody know that part of St Paul Street  or Clifton Hill much better than I do “

All the big guns were there, and everyone was jumpy. From the committee were an uneasy Espinet, a calmer Mose, and an Important Ottley, who demanded an explanation for the fighting. He remonstrated, “Instead of all this cutlass and bottle and stone, why don’t you fellas, if you want to settle, thrash it out hand to hand.”

Ottley produced two pairs of boxing gloves from under the table.”You guys can use this,” Ottley said.”If you fellows don’t know how to use it I will show you, I will teach you.”

The meeting worked out well, one result of which was to get off with a reprimand the many panmen on criminal charges. Of far greater long-term significance was to elect a provisional executive of a Steelband Association, with Gollop as President, Casablanca’s Nathaniel Crichlow as Vice-President, and Claude Haywood as General Secretary, Carlton Badhi as Treasurer, Lennox Pierre and Caryle Kerr as the Youth Council Representative.

“The badjohns or the warmongers, you had a problem to get rid of them because they felt from the time the organisation was formed that they had no position again, because then the captain of the band and the officers of the band control the bands, so they had no control again over these bands, “says Gollop. ” So they lost their position. I was being assaulted, I’ve been assaulted and I took it.”

This team was re-elected when the Association held its first general meeting at the Youth council headquarters in Cocorite.

This meeting represented the beginning of the Steelband Association. And by the time Gollop resigned the post in 1956, he had led the steelband movement through the formation of TASPO, which created the modern, symphonic steelband ensemble, and into the Trinidad Music Festival, where it showed its mettle.

 Excerpts taken from the book: “If Yuh  Iron Good You is King – Pan Pioneers of Trinidad and Tobago “By Kim Johnson.

On the 27th August 1993, a stone Commemorating the Inaugural Meeting of the Steelband Association was erected at the back of the St. Paul Street  Sports Complex. On the Stone are engraved, the names of the members of the first executive committee:

Foundation-Stone

Sydney Gollop
President

Nathaniel Chrichlow 
Vice President

Claude Sonny Haywood
General Meeting

Carlton Badhi     
Treasurer

Lennox Pierre
Youth Council Representative

Caryle Kerr
Youth Council Representative.

George Goddard
Assistant Secretary

Credit has to be given to Keith Diaz for his foresight and genuine interest in preserving the history and site of the most important event in the life of Pan; He was the person who led the move to have the Foundation Stone erected at the St. Paul Street location.

Owen Serrette – President at the time had the signal honour of commissioning the Foundation Stone on behalf of the Association.

Special mention must be made of the role played by the Belgrove family, who donated the marble stone.

Excerpts taken from the book: “If Yuh Iron Good You is King – Pan Pioneers of Trinidad and Tobago “By Kim Johnson.

Revised October 15, 2014

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